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Wanted: Home-made cartoon blockbusters
By Chen Qide (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-16 01:28

China plans to establish several film animation conglomerates within five to 10 years to stimulate the burgeoning and profitable industry, a senior film official said Thursday.

Beijing, Shanghai, Hunan Province and the Central TV Station have all been designated as the four largest animated film production bases expected to become animation leviathans, said Jin Delong, an of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

The government of Changsha in Hunan Province, for example, has outlined 200-hectares of land for an Animation Science Park to turn animation films into a local pillar industry, said Jin.

"These giant producers will lead the nation's animated film industry, making it strong enough to compete with its overseas counterparts within years," he said.

At Thursday's ceremony for the country's first training class for animators, Jin called China's status quo in the animation industry is "unsatisfactory.''

"China has a huge and promising market, but is weak in creating animated films,'' said Jin, who is also president of China Animation Association.

The United States produced US$90 billion worth of cultural products last year, with two-thirds of that market exported.

Last year, the world generated animated films valued at US$500 billion.

But in China, many animated film studios simply process films for overseas companies, he said.

Statistics show that Chinese companies spend only 15 per cent of their funds on research and creation, 20 per cent on composition of films and 65 per cent on processing products for overseas animators.

In contrast, , overseas studios put 40 per cent into composition and 30 per cent into creation.

"The current investment structure in China reflects its weakness in creation of animated films,'' Jin said.

Local insiders said the result is that many TV stations have to broadcast overseas animated films, in turn, placing restrictions on the growth of China's animation industry.

China has about 360 million youngsters who are potential consumers of animated films. A survey of kids aged from 4 to 14, conducted by the association last year, showed they enjoy watching animated films.

"But there are not enough Chinese films for them and furthermore, subjects are unitary,'' Jin said.

SARFT has held a working conference in Beijing to call for the effort to establish a broadcasting system of animated films.

"Without a system, the country is unable to produce more quality animated films,'' he said.

He told teachers coming from 22 universities in 20 provinces and municipalities to train, that Chinese animated films should account for 60 per cent of the broadcast time on every channel for children, while overseas ones should be 40 per cent.

"The policy is aimed at stimulating the creation of Chinese films,'' he said.

He told China Daily that SARFT has approved the plan to add 50 TV channels for children in 31 provinces and municipalities for broadcasting animated films.

Hunan Province will launch a satellite channel for children on October 1, Beijing in October and Shanghai at the year-end, he said.

"Private enterprises are encouraged to invest in the production of animated films and new policies will be formulated,'' Jin said.

Last year, China produced 300 hours of animated films, of which 63 per cent were privately funded.

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